Tonight sees a major clash in the Premier League between two of the competition’s giants – champions Liverpool and Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners have gotten off to a tremendous start in their 2020-21 Premier League campaign, dispatching of both Fulham and West Ham United. But the Reds promise to be a very different proposition for them.
Jurgen Klopp’s reigning champions have also won their first two games, beating Leeds United and most recently, Chelsea.
But can Arsenal spring a Premier League upset and defeat the champions? Here are five reasons why they could.
#1 Arteta is 2-0 against Klopp
Since his arrival in the Premier League back in October 2015, Jurgen Klopp has completely transformed Liverpool’s fortunes. Not only has he guided them to their first Premier League title – their first league title in 30 years – but he even led them to the top of the mountain in Europe when they won the Champions League in 2019.
The German boss is undeniably one of the greatest managers in the modern game. He’s overcome clubs managed by fellow greats like Jose Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola in Premier League action. But has he met his match in the form of Mikel Arteta?
The Gunners boss is highly inexperienced at the top level, as the Arsenal job is his first in management after years coaching under Guardiola. However, in a short period of time, he’s already overseen plenty of change at Arsenal, and the effect has been tremendous.
One of these effects? Arteta’s Gunners have beaten Klopp’s Liverpool on both occasions that they’ve faced off. The most recent match between the two was the Community Shield this past August, and saw Arsenal win a penalty shoot-out after the game finished 1-1.
So does Arteta have a psychological advantage over Klopp? Well, there’s no denying that his side have been the superior one both times they’ve faced off thus far. That means that this is a challenge Klopp hasn’t faced in the Premier League before – and so it could give Arsenal an advantage tonight.
#2 Their last Premier League meeting was won by Arsenal
As was previously mentioned, Arteta is already 2-0 in matches against Klopp’s Liverpool. However, while the Community Shield is little more than a glorified friendly, a lot more can be taken from the Gunners’ Premier League victory over the Reds in July.
At that point, Liverpool were still chasing the 100-point mark, but needed to win all three of their remaining games in order to reach it. However, despite opening the scoring early through Sadio Mane, some uncharacteristic defensive errors allowed Arsenal back into the game.
First, Alexandre Lacazette took advantage of a poor back-pass from Virgil van Dijk to equalise, and then shortly after, Reiss Nelson capitalised on a bad clearance from Alisson to score the winner.
But the fascinating thing about Arsenal’s win at the Emirates was the way in which they achieved it. Arteta’s side only had 31% of the possession and scored with their only two shots on target. Liverpool, meanwhile, took 24 shots, but only managed eight on target and simply couldn’t break Arsenal’s defence down.
Naturally, on another day the Reds could’ve won this game. But the fact is that the majority of the Premier League’s defences simply folded under Liverpool’s pressure during 2019-20. The Gunners, on the other hand, absolutely refused to fold.
If Arteta comes into tonight’s match with the same gameplan and his players follow the same backs-to-the-wall mantra, there’s every chance they can spring an upset again and come away with the win.